Review of The Reluctant Sacrifice (The Aramithians), by Kerr-Ann Dempster

I In March of 2017 The Reluctant Sacrifice, by Kerr-Ann Dempster, was free on Amazon. I picked up a copy of it at that time.

Description from Goodreads:

Centuries ago, sibling rivalry tore Aramith apart. As punishment, the losers were stripped of their immortal birthright and banished to Earth. There, they wasted away from old age and diseases. However, there is hope… 

If a Shaw child, born on the 12th day of the 12th month offers her soul in a public sacrifice, then the exiles will be forgiven and welcomed home to Aramith. 

Aubrey Shaw is that child, but dying for the exiles is not on her to-do list. Using her gift as a Jumper, Aubrey leaps between bodies to escape relentless shape-shifting hunters. Only, shedding her skin is not enough. Not when Joshua, her best-friend-turned-hunter, is hell-bent on dragging her to the altar. 

Will Aubrey’s love for Joshua change his mind? 

Or, will she have to trust the scarred stranger who shows up out of the blue cloaked in lies and secrets? Doing so means giving up on Joshua. But betting on Joshua’s love could do more than break her heart. 

It could kill her.

Review:

This wasn’t bad, so much as just uninspired. It has all the cliched YA tropes people are tired of seeing: the love triangle, the chosen one, the ‘let me throw myself at a boy sexually to forget my problems,’ the heroine who doesn’t do her hair or make-up normally, the prom-style dress that makes her a pretty-pretty princess for a night, the sassy best friend, etc. There’s nothing new or exciting here.

The writing was perfectly serviceable, but again, not anything marvelous. And there were a few big editing mishaps, like someone touching the exposed skin above a waistband, when we’d been told the character was in a dress. However, there was also a lot left too shadowed in the universe and plot. So much feeling and decision-making is supposed to hinge on the feelings and events from childhoods that we don’t see that it felt baseless.

There were also some strange things going on with age. 12-year-olds French kissing, 15-year-olds expertly manipulating people with sex, and no one questioning how a 16/17-year-old has numerous tattoos, for example. Not that such things can’t happen, it’s just that they felt truly strange and out of place here. Like the author imagined all her characters as just a bit older than she made them and then forgot.

I’d have said this was just a meh book, if not for one big problem. The whole premise that puts the three main characters together is preposterous. To say I was incredulous that the character that wanted Aubrey dead as badly as he did would have the compassion to allow the events of this story is putting it mildly. I suspect it was supposed to make him a grey character, instead of a villain. But it just red as wishy-washy and unbelievable. And if the very bedrock a book is build on is as shaky as this, nothing else stands on it. The book is supposed to be about life and death and a fight to survive, but the things that actually happen….a party, and getting to school everyday, and flirting, and going to work. None of it really hung together, I’m sorry to say. And then the unfounded mysticism was dropped in at the end. Nope, none of it worked.

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